Government ranked eleventh in customer service
Central government services outside top ten in a basket of public-facing organisations
A representative sample of the UK population rate their experience of accessing central government services less favourably than their experience of accessing ten other customer-facing organisational types.
A poll by government to citizen software company Lagan Technologies found that government services rated worse than much-criticised technical support lines, telephone companies and insurance companies. Local council services rated much more positively, ranking 5th on the list.
Asked to rate the ease of accessing services from a range of customer facing organisations, respondents ranked them as follows (with 1 as the easiest and 11 as the most difficult):
2. High Street retailers
3. Online retailers
5. Local Councils
6. Other utilities (gas, electricity)
7. Telephone companies
8. Broadband providers
9. Insurance companies
10. Technical support services
11. Central government services
The poll also found that more government investment in technology that directly improves access to services would be popular with the electorate. A clear majority (77%) of the UK population approve of government investment in IT to improve access to services, with approval marginally higher amongst the 55+ age group. At the same time, 42% of respondents expressed concern about the cost of Government IT projects. Only 4% felt negative about their personal use of new communications methods.
Des Speed, CEO of Lagan Technologies, said: “Our polling points to clear opportunity for the new government. It demonstrates that there is a clear public appetite for the use of technology to improve access to local and national government services. Governments worldwide use technology to improve access and efficiency and reduce cost. Our experience of working with 200 local governments tells us that much can be achieved in a relatively short time for minimal investment. Systems that interface with social networks, mobile phones, PCs and the domestic phone can enable citizens to access responsive government services wherever they are.”
Asked what would most improve access to public services, 53% of respondents were in favour of one memorable number for contact with all government services. The memorable phone number was most popular with the 55+ age bracket.
A quarter of respondents (24%) were in favour of their own web page for accessing services. Seventeen percent of the 18-34 year old age bracket favoured an iPhone-style app for communication with government services. Amongst the 18-34 year old age group 26% favoured the use of mobile web applications.
One in ten believe that central government services have become more efficient in the last 5 years. Three in ten (29%) believe that central government services have become less efficient.
The three favoured methods of accessing local council services are phone (68%), email (66%) and access via the internet (63%). Fewer than half chose mail (48%) or visits to council offices (47%).
Processor settles with MasterCard
Agreement to compensate issuers over data breach
US payment processor Heartland Payment Systems is to pay up to US$41.4m to MasterCard issuers in settlement the data breach it suffered in 2008.
The agreement will see MasterCard card issuers that filed timely claims for reimbursement of operational expenses or to recover fraud losses on certain accounts processed by Heartland during 2008 being eligible to get a specified payment with receipt in the third quarter of this year.
The settlement offers will be made to eligible MasterCard issuers on May 27, the company said in a statement.
In January 2009 Heartland announced that it had discovered malicious software in its processing system, putting the details of millions of cardholders at risk.
The settlement is contingent upon financial institutions representing 80% of the claimed-on accounts accepting it by 25 June and waiving their rights to pursue future claims.
Wendy Murdock, chief franchise officer, MasterCard, said: “We feel that this settlement represents an appropriate and fair resolution for our issuing financial institution customers and will enable them to avoid uncertainties and delays associated with potentially protracted litigation.”
The MasterCard agreement over the breach follows a $60m settlement with Visa issuers in January, and a $3.6m agreement with American Express. Heartland has also agreed to pay up to $2.4 m to settle a consumer cardholder class action suit.
Hacker Albert Gonzalez was charged with masterminding the attack in August 2009. In March this year Gonzalez was jailed for carrying out another high profile attack on the systems of retailer TJX.